C. A. Ray
Grant County Herald
Grant County bids farewell to its long-serving county coordinator, Jim Standish, who is stepping down after a remarkable 52-year tenure. Standish, a lifelong resident of Erdahl, leaves behind a legacy of innovation and dedicated service in a role he pioneered.
Appointed in 1971 following his military service, Standish became the first to assume the county coordinator position in Grant County. Reflecting on his initial days, Standish said, “When I was hired, I was tasked with establishing the office of county coordinator. It was about being an advisor and a grant writer to the county and the cities. I wasn’t given any guidance. They handed me two file folders and said, ‘Here, do it.’”
Standish’s career saw him taking on multiple roles, including administering the shoreland ordinance and solid waste programs. His contributions extended to the establishment of the Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) in 1972, an entity he will continue to lead even after his retirement.
Discussing the notable changes over the years, Standish highlighted the technological evolution from typewriters and carbon paper to digital computers. “The one thing is, being in government through the years, it’s just gotten to be more and more. It’s not because of local conditions, but requirements from the state or federal government,” he observed.
Standish expressed pride in Grant County’s agricultural roots, attributing the county’s economic strength to its farming community. “We are an agricultural-based county and the farmers are a strong economic element of the county. If it weren’t for them, the county wouldn’t really amount to much,” he remarked.
One significant challenge Standish recalled was the powerline controversy in the 1970s, which he described as a pivotal moment in his career. “The siting became an issue, because landowners didn’t want them on their property. So, through this office, we passed an ordinance for a process involving public hearings. The state eventually took over the siting of the powerlines. There were protests, and it was a challenging period,” he recounted.
Looking to the future, Standish expressed concerns about the impact of social media on the county. “We have seen changes, mainly due to social media. How it will affect the county, I don’t know, but I am sure it will have an effect. So, going forward, that would be a concern,” he stated.
Standish’s departure ushers in a new era for Grant County. Greg Lillemon will take over the responsibilities of the recycling and solid waste programs. As for Standish, he will continue to serve as the executive director of the HRA during an undetermined transition period, ensuring a smooth handover of his numerous responsibilities.